Expository+Writing+Lecture+on+Keneally - Expository Writing...

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Expository Writing 101, Section LH Instructor Sarah Goldfarb Lecture on Christine Keneally’s “You Have Gestures” Empathy, Ethics and “Progress” In the past two assignments we have touched on the issue of ethics: the concept of a certain way of living one’s life with a requisite emotional capacity for others and their well-being, and with respect for others’ lives. This type of lifestyle requires the ability to communicate effectively with others. In Beth Loffreda’s essay, we saw how she communicated her critique of the press’s response to Matthew Shepard’s murder both through the stylistic strategies she used, and through the content of her writing. Loffreda also had the reader question whether society really progressed in its conception of ethically responsible treatment of others through the result of this media coverage, which led to dehumanization of Matt and subsequent use of his death for symbolic purposes. In Christine Keneally’s essay, she discusses the importance of gestures in communication, citing a scientist’s theory that “humans are particularly cooperative in the way they communicate. Reciprocation is fundamental to the interactions of our species […]. In many theories of evolution, human altruism is treated as an anomaly. But Tomasello thinks of it as an evolutionary strategy that has served us incredibly well” (331). This scientist, Mike Tomasello, has also noted that chimpanzees do not gesture to other chimpanzees in altruistic ways, implying that our evolution towards a generally altruistic, or empathetic, species, could have gone in a very different direction. When thinking about these two essays together, please consider the issues of communication, empathy, and progress. Keneally writes that “At its most fundamental, language is an act of shared attention, and without the fundamentally human willingness to listen to what another
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This note was uploaded on 02/18/2011 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Sierra during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Expository+Writing+Lecture+on+Keneally - Expository Writing...

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